Back in 2017, local entrepreneur Alex Ryden revolutionized the way we shop for home decor by launching Guest House, a business that stages for-sale homes for real estate agents, developers, and homeowners in Denver and Boulder using locally made furnishings, ceramics, rugs, and original artwork with a relaxed, modern vibe. Customers tour and shop the homes, making purchases on the spot or via Guest House’s website or Instagram feed.
But these days, as social distancing makes it difficult for shoppers to buy from local artists and makers, Ryden is using the Guest House platform to help prop up the local economy. Here, he shares the company’s new initiatives to support Colorado artisans, while also helping homeowners spruce up their live-work-homeschool spaces.
5280 Home: How is the coronavirus impacting local artists and makers?
Alex Ryden: While the coronavirus has been tough on most of the world, it has been particularly vicious to small businesses. Shop owners, artists, and makers in Colorado are hurting. We’ve heard stories of beautiful local stores potentially closing forever, artists wondering how they’re going to pay their studio rent, and woodworkers laying off employees. So, we decided to do something about it.
Tell us about it.
Guest House is giving 100 percent of profits from sales in our marketplace back to the makers. That means the cutting board, chair, pillow, or candle you purchase directly impacts the livelihoods of real people across Colorado.
Through our email campaigns and Instagram channel, we’ll also be telling stories of these incredible humans making products in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs. And this spring and summer, we will be launching Virtual Maker Workshops on our Instagram channel. These workshops will be led by top makers across Colorado. Attendees will be able to learn everything from proper painting techniques to how to shape amazing pottery—and they can support the makers and artists by sending donations directly to their Venmo accounts, which we will advertise during the workshops. The goal is to do whatever we can to help prop up the local economy and support those who have supported us.
Can customers virtually “shop” your homes while stay-at-home orders are in place?
It’s tough for everyone that you can’t visit properties or shop furnishings in person right now. We’ll get back to those good old days soon. But we’ve always been a digital-first business, so you can continue to shop goods and explore our latest homes at guesthouseshop.com/homes. We’ll be adding lots of new properties over the coming months, as we continue to stage beautiful homes for real estate agents in Denver and Boulder.
We’re also investing heavily in new digital experiences that make it feel like you’re walking through our homes from the comfort of your couch. Our Virtual Tour Technology, which we’ll be releasing on our website in the coming weeks, will allow you to navigate every corner of our homes, explore rooms, and shop the furnishings inside. Once a purchase is made, we connect shoppers directly with makers, who coordinate delivery, making it easy and seamless for everyone.
Are you finding that sheltering in place is inspiring homeowners to refresh their rooms with some new furnishings?
Absolutely. Society is slowing down and people are thinking about their spaces more than ever. We are seeing people invest in everything from candles, pillows, and throws to improve the comfort of their environment, as well as items that support their new “office,” and storage solutions that help them bring order to the chaos.
Are any design trends taking root?
We’ve noticed that cozy items are still popular going into spring. Throws, candles, and pillows are the feel-good items we want while we’re all at home. For colors, we think muted tones like periwinkle, sage, and soft pink will be trending through the summer. Overall, people are investing in functional, beautiful goods that make them feel better about life right now.